Can You Use Dryer Sheets To Repel Insects?

Have you read that dryer sheets can help keep some insects at bay? Add that to the long list of remedies like essential oils, plants, and homemade traps that claim to keep away mosquitos or other pests. Home remedies used to repel insects are usually passed along without scientific sign-off, and what some swear by, others claim do not work at all.

So what do we know about dryer sheets and bugs? Studies have isolated linalool as the main substance in dryer sheets that may repel pests (along with citronella, another common home repellent.) Smithsonian Magazine reports, that Linalool is naturally found in plants like lavender and basil, which are typically fragrant to humans, but not to some bugs. With that in mind, how do dryer sheets add up as a home hack against pests according to the experts? See how dryer sheets have fared in studies on mosquitos and other bugs.

Do dryer sheets repel mosquitos?

The most common home hack attributed to dryer sheets as a pest repellent is against the pesky mosquito. And after receiving a cluster of itchy bites, who wouldn't try almost anything to avoid getting swarmed by them on a balmy summer night? The advice is to crush a couple of dryer sheets and put them in your pockets. Mosquitos won't like the odor and will move on to another juicy ankle or arm.

While this dryer sheet tip is considered hearsay, according to some studies, there could be some truth to it. When using linalool to repel mosquitos in both candles and diffusers, researchers found that it was pretty effective, notes the Journal of Vector Ecology. Indoors, linalool diffusers repelled mosquitos by 93%, while outdoors, it was still highly effective at 58%. The study also found that diffusers were much better at repelling than scented candles, which makes it difficult to know how powerful the scent of a dryer sheet would come off, especially in an outdoor setting. So the jury is still out — while coming armed with dryer sheets may work to ward off mosquitos to some extent, how many sheets you'd need and how long the scent lasts will require some trial and error.

Dryer sheets and other insects

Dryer sheets are also considered effective in repelling other types of pests, but in this case, experiments exist that test actual dryer sheets as a deterrent, not just the linalool found in them. Smithsonian Magazine reports that one study gave gnats the option to enter three chambers in a plastic container: two that were empty, and one that had a piece of dryer sheet. Each time they ran the experiment, the space with a dryer sheet had fewer bugs.

Other insects that may be repelled by dryer sheets include mites, beetles, weevils, and German cockroaches, per Arrow. Leaving a stack in dark, low-traffic corners of the home can send such pests packing. And according to Aptive, dryer sheets can help protect houseplants from root-eating pests, like fungus gnats. They recommend placing dryer sheets close to the pots, especially in moist areas where plants are kept, like bathrooms.